Do you agree with Veetor? Was what he was doing justified? Was he actually doing good? Or do you agree with Ora?
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Do you agree with Veetor? Was what he was doing justified? Was he actually doing good? Or do you agree with Ora?
Support the show (https://paypal.me/MurtazaBohari)
The group had been together for nearly two real life years in a homebrew game, and the Paladin and Cleric both had made it a sort of sub-mission to find and capture a serial killer secondary BBEG known as "The Painter," since we couldn't seem to find a big lich or end of the world event quite yet. Every town we went to would have stories from weeks before. This serial killer targeted nobles, and especially went out of their way to kill Knights, Generals, Royals, or high ranking officers in the army. There was even an incident years ago where an Elven Prince had been murdered. But never anything less, only prolific people. The worst part? It was the bodies. They'd be left mangled like some kind of art piece, with depictions of violence or nature-like scenes made with well…. You know. Meanwhile all across the country tensions would rise with calls for war, so we really were at our wits end trying to keep the peace and find who we thought was the source of all of this.
Our Rogue was…. Unique you could say. Both cold and calculating, yet warm and caring. He was a lizard-folk named Veetor who, thanks to an extremely complex backstory I'll get more into later, had achieved a higher level of intelligence than any of his brethren and even most wizards we'd argue. He spoke like a proper noble, dressed well, and was often confused for a misshapen dragon-born due to his charisma and eloquent speech. The paladin, named Ora, came from a renown family, but even she found herself always at the Veetor's side as a friend. Why you may ask? Because the Rogue never admitted they were a rogue. They also exclusively used a rapier, constantly helped those in need, and never performed any criminal tasks while people watched. As far as the party was concerned, the Rogue was actually a Noble gentlemen Dragonborn skilled in fencing, even the players didn't know the player was a rogue. Veetor helped them in their investigations, and with his intelligence and perception score being out the yin yang, he was a master at breaking puzzles, finding clues, and solving crimes.
The party was immersed in the world. It was beautiful, full of life, and the party itself had such colorful characters. Everyone after many sessions happily shared their backstory and through the games our characters got a lot of closure, and still kept adventuring till we hit that sweet level eighteen. We were in it for the long haul. Started at level four, and one day we'd see level twenty. We wanted to prevent a major war in the country our game took place in, and man did we do our very best. Every session had some semblance of cloak and dagger, mystery, combat, and character development we didn't even know we had left. Everyone talked about their past and grew the character to its fullest. But Veetor? Veetor never talked about himself. When asked questions he'd basically dance through them with words and stories or excuses. Veetor never lied though. He was a lizard-folk still, and so if he did answer something straightforward it was always honest. The party rather enjoyed the blunt nature of his responses. They made him seem normal despite the air of sophistication. You honestly ask him his opinions on anything, a dress, food, the weather, even complex political and religious things in game. He'd always have an answer and was always quite convincing in the way he believed certain things. But ask him if he had family? Friends? Maybe what he did as a kid? Nothing.
Hell despite that, Ora the Paladin honestly felt like she could call Veetor her best friend. Because he helped her with her own goal of trying to track down The Painter, and she appreciated his effort. He was almost a bit like Zuko from Avatar the Last Air bender, helping everyone with their emotional journey into their characters. For Ora, he helped her achieve her dreams of cementing her family into legend with the slaying of a great lich and a few dragons. He helped the Cleric come to terms with the loss of his family through an epic side quest. He helped the fighter track down and let go of his lust for vengeance on the slaver that owned him as well as free many other slaves. For the Barbarian he helped track down her tribe and make amends, even helping them complete an ancient rite of passage. Our Ranger was able to avenge her people by killing a Demon that had destroyed her home and she even set up a new village in the ruins to rebuild. Our artificer had an extremely emotional moment as Veetor helped her set the grounds for getting into an academy with her inventions. The artificer had always dreamed of getting in, but sadly the characters parents couldn't see it. Veetor played older brother and made a feast that day that the party would never forget, to celebrate. Basically, he was a wingman you could rely on. A brother even.
But no one knew anything about Veetor. He was a Lizard-Folk, always dressed to impress, who basically danced through combat and royal politics. He was a poet who always knew just what to say, and seemed to always have stories or legends to keep the campfire interesting, and was always lore friendly. The DM basically let him create folklore on a whim at one point. But something felt strange after a while. He was always so cold and distant when discussing himself and that never changed even after two years. The only thing we pulled out of him at one point with a few strong drinks was he came from a village far to the North, but it was off the beaten path and he hadn't been back there in ages.
No matter how often the party insisted we go to visit, he would always tell them we had more to worry about, and that everything was as it should be. His smile was described as intoxicating, and if we ever tried to see through if there was deception, we could never pass the DC, or he simply wasn't lying as he would say. Then one day our party, which usually was moving from place to place to help the whole country and it's major factions that had rising tensions, finally got stuck in one place. The most recent murder from The Painter happened here, and now unlike in other places, the nobles had had enough. Martial law was in effect, and no one could enter or leave the city. Trade was still permitted, but extremely monitored so supplies wouldn't go down. There was no way anyone was getting in or out. To make matters worse, tensions only got higher in the country without our constant Player Character nonsense helping somehow.
It was only a matter of time before war was finally declared among all major factions and kingdoms; and for the first time ever the party saw Veetor get angry. He yelled and shouted that the king of this area must let us leave, as we had to help stop this needless violence. The party had no idea what to do. Veetor had been some calm, so cool, this sudden change in character was not what the party expected. The DM for her part was amazing and played the part of the King like a boss. The King threw us out back into the streets, and for weeks we lived on a dwindling coin purse. Every time we tried to escape we found that guards were ready in case The Painter struck again. A prominent noble that had suggested the peasants be put in the sewers was found in the main plaza covered in rats amid a bed of flowers and coins for the masses to take.
Supplies were becoming difficult to get. Some people tried to escape, and were brought down with bow and spear. That night after that incident, the party heard the scream. The Painter struck again, killing the King's closest advisor. The body is covered in melted gold, with the word "Parasite" written in blood behind him, and a brief painting of the kingdom behind him on a wall. This made the nobles squeeze tighter on the populace of this major city. It didn't help that armies were on the march, and soon this city would be attacked.
The Painter struck yet again, this time the Captain of the Guard that had ordered the death of several peasants stealing food. He was found hanging from the front gate, with red paint made to look like broken wings on the wall behind him.
We couldn't catch The Painter. We learned he'd send his next victims a paintbrush dipped in blood. Even with that, no matter how many times we staked out the streets or guarded a target, at some point we would have a brief moment of weakness and The Painter would strike. It was demoralizing, as even our own party got letters of threat. Ora's family was at risk, the cleric's church was at risk, everyone had something to lose.
But then it happened. An army was marching on the doorstep of this city, and by the next day war would come to us. We were under-equipped, our characters were hungry, and hopelessness was strong in the air. We split up during the night to patrol and find this bastard, and then we heard a scream, followed by Ora shouting. The group quickly gathered on her in the upper rings of the city and found a sight that would not leave us ever.
Another art piece. Unfinished, with the body of the Lord of Coin, The King's brother. Standing there in front of Ora, gazing right into her, were the cold uncaring eyes of Veetor. "What is this?!" Ora shouted. "W-Where'd the killer go?!" She demanded to know, refusing to believe what she saw.
Veetor, covered in blood, merely held the knife. "Ora," he started.
"No, where's the killer?!" She demanded again, describing how her body shook all over with tears in her eyes.
"I'm right here." Veetor's words flowed like silk. None of the party knew what to do. There was no denying it. He was covered in fresh blood, he had the murder weapon, and he admitted to it. But how did he get around so fast? How did he accomplish this? All in due time everyone would learn.
"No, I refuse to believe it, I refuse. You're lying, we don't have time for games. We don't have time for them Veetor!" Ora shouted as her greatsword shook.
"When have I ever lied, though, my old friend?" He said without blinking.
"But," Ora didn't know what to do. Even the player had no idea how to respond.
"Did you know," Veetor continued as he looked up at the wall where he had mounted the body. "This particular area is easy to see from the throne room?"
"Why?!" Ora finally shouted. Her character couldn't stop shaking and crying. "Why did you . . . All those people?"
Veetor looked back at her. "Why? The Master of Coin is responsible for draining city finances, dunking them straight into the pockets of nobles and spending it on luxurious wines, exotic dancers, and food stores hidden beneath his and many others estates. Without him, now the peasantry may take what is rightfully there's, and eat before tomorrow." He pulled out his pocket watch the artificer had made for him as a gift. Looking over it he soon nodded and put it back in his pocket. "I should still have time to deal with the enemy general and his leadership, which should dissuade any further conflict in this area for at least the next harvest. The Painter will have walked free outside the walls, and then martial law is lifted. Now if you don't mind, I've work to finish." He twirled his blade up and turned towards the body.
"Stop!" Ora commanded. The cleric joined in as well. "Stop, you . . . You need to face justice."
"Justice?" Veetor inquired before turning back. "Is this man not facing justice? Do you know how many he has killed alone by taking money needed for grain stores and buying wine instead? Because I can list the first and last names of hundreds that have died of hunger in the past two weeks, if it pleases you Ora."
"But this is insane! T-This is cruel! This isn't like you Veetor! Are you possessed? You must be possessed!" Ora stammered, trying to make sense of it.
"Cruel?" Veetor questioned. "Ah, I suppose it is." He said as he gazed at his work. "But it is necessary. My works ensure the poor do not suffer needlessly. My actions are my own, I understand them fully."
"But you're . . . You're making others suffer." Ora really wanted to fight him on this. But Veetor had been her closest friend in this game. No one expected this. The party expected a blood crazed tiefling, or maybe a feral animal with a twisted slasher flick persona. Not Veetor. "How does this help people?" Ora demanded to know. "How does being a monster help?!"
Veetor was silent for a while before sighing. "Monster? Hm . . . As my father would always say. We are born with no gods and no masters. We are what we make ourselves to be. I am a healer and will never turn any in need away, as it will bring strength to the village for me to know our ally and foe, so too should you heal the world as you see fit, hatchling. Help your tribe as you see fit." Veetor held his knife by the end of the blade now. "He said that to me before an Elven prince marched on our village. My people were simple. Unlike many of our neighboring sister tribes, we found peace in our solitary pacifist life. This Elven prince wanted a great battle with monsters, and forced us to fight him. It wasn't enough. He crucified our shamans, forced our men to duel his soldiers, and the rest were skinned for leather. I survived though, by hiding. I tracked the army for days after that, watching the destruction they left behind, and with a single knife I ended a war. I carved the little prince into the shape of a monarch butterfly, and the king wept until he died. Soldiers returned to their families. Conscripted peasants returned to their farms, and hope returned as a new governing body emerged. One knife and an act of cruelty stopped a war that would've swallowed thousands more for someone's honor." The party was silent, as Veetor spoke with a tone as if he was describing the weather. "You know what I did afterwards, Ora? I returned home. I lay in the pit where they threw my mother and my father and I waited. I waited, and waited, wishing for whatever Gods watched over me to smite me for breaking our vows of pacifism. But they did not. So I rose up, set fire to the pit, and left my home behind. The poor of the world became my tribe. And I will ensure that whoever thinks to call themselves their masters understands just how little they are worth."
"You," Ora couldn't speak. That was part of the lore of some of the Elven kingdoms, and Ora was an elf. It happened nearly fifteen years ago, and no one knew why the Elven conquest of the Wildlands near their kingdom suddenly stopped. Now we knew. At least we thought we did.
At this point Veetor approached the party. His back was straight, his eyes cold but alert, and he wiped blood off of his face with a handkerchief before stuffing it in his shirt pocket. No one tried to stop him, but he stood next to Ora for a moment. "A war can breed tales of Valor among Knights, Kings, and Paladins alike. But wars bring stories of desperation in the millions that fall by their swords. Tales of stealing from the old and the sick, of selling one's body and soul for moldy bread. You've chopped down hundreds of bandits, cultists, some I would assume are doing what they can to survive, but that is not justice is it? I bring justice in my art, so that those that think they can throw the lives of others at their enemies realize how vulnerable they are." With that he started to leave, walking like a refined nobleman that was so sure of himself. "My work on this world is never truly done, my friends. I pray to all the Gods we will meet again on better terms."
No one stopped him. The group was too stunned. The next day the enemy army was in disarray. Their general and his officers were found dead, killed in The Painter's signature style, and Veetor was nowhere to be found. That was until days later the party heard rumors, rumors of more killings heading East and then North, and they knew they had to put a stop to it. Thus the Elven Paladin Ora, the Dwarf Cleric Tomin, the Human Fighter Joirk, the Goliath barbarian Amara, The Half-Elf ranger Tulip, and the Tiefling Artificer Liliana set out to do what must be done. The shock was gone, and they knew they couldn't let Veetor do as he had been doing.
Learning that the gentlemen Lizard-Folk that had helped them for nearly two real life years in game was actually a psychopathic serial killer that thought he was keeping the peace had taken a lot out of them. Some of the party agreed the NPCs that died by his hands were troublemakers, but no one in character agreed with Veetor's cruelty. The party was dead set on this guy being the BBEG, and still subscribed to the thought that if they beat him and showed him off to the lords and ladies of the country, peace would be restored.
The party made their way North East to cut him off, and everyone had made their decision. It didn't matter what he was doing, there had to be a better away. But the genius psycho made sure the trail we followed was tailored to show why his ideology was right. He would hit every other town or city along the way we went. Where he struck, arguably the people did better and the nobles were less war mongering. The many were better taken care of, but only if you really stretched the meaning of taken care of, and the wealthy few were terrified and grew more paranoid. Wherever he didn't strike, the call for war grew, corruption was higher, and it got very grim dark. You know, as medieval politics were. We were never really sure what Veetor and the DM had discussed, but the lower castes of society really did not like us. Thieves guilds, homeless, urchins, and non-merchant guild members would ignore us or have plenty of hateful things to say.
Up to this point the party was mostly of good alignment. Lawful good, neutral good, hell the Barbarian was at least chaotic good. Our group was pretty much made up of cinnamon rolls or supportive individuals so it worked really well to be of good alignment. But after going town to town the characters began to break a bit. Our artificer started to question her own desire to please an academy of her peers when she started looking at their own dirty laundry. The Barbarian, having redeemed herself in her tribe, started to question why she worked so hard to please chieftains that often led them out to only destroy. The rest of the party was losing their grip, except Ora the Paladin and Tomin the cleric. They rallied the group with a rousing speech and the group pressed on. At least until the next nearest village.
The next village was a nightmare. You remember that scene in Mulan, where they're singing and then find that village and everyone just kinda gets hit with a slap of reality? That was it. The DM was very thorough in her descriptions, and by god the party definitely felt something then. Veetor had completely avoided this area, and the party hoped we could use it as a place to pick up supplies. Instead it had been neglected for months, maybe even years. The skirmish looks like it took place not too long ago, as fire still burned in the buildings. I won't lie and say everyone pushed on with their heads held high, the group hunted down the bandits that did this and wanted vengeance. Sadly though, it wasn't bandits. It was soldiers from a neighboring kingdom making moves on their rival. The group was allied with this kingdom and the soldiers belonged to it, and the party was considered local heroes. All the group could do was excuse themselves and deny the soldier's friendly offer for drinks. The party camped in the woods, hunting for local game and taking time to rp and rest.
The search continued, and the party only grew exhausted. Everyone knew things were getting worse, but we also saw that Veetor was getting worse based on what was being left behind. Up until this point, the killings were, as Veetor would argue "Art" in some way. They were calculated to not leave massive power vacuums. But as the group got closer to catching him the carnage grew worse and more savage, as he no longer had the time to plan things as he had up to this point. Entire noble houses would be wiped out. Peasant revolutions were beginning and only aggravating tensions in the country as a whole, and soon one city had it's upper area set ablaze. This was the nail in the coffin, and the entire Eastern side of the country we were trying to protect erupted into chaos. Kingdoms were entering into feudal war, alliances were being made and major factions started to cave in and make way for new giants in the playing field.
The group hoped maybe, just maybe if they brought this mad man to justice, made him explain it was all him, maybe everyone would stop. After all, you defeat the BBEG and win right? The party finally found Veetor, and discovered how wrong we were.
In a small clearing, in a long forgotten swamp, a camp of refugees huddled around a few bone fires. Elves, humans, dwarves, all manner of people had gathered. All in all there were maybe about three hundred people here just trying to survive, and many looked on the verge of starving. There were many hateful glances, but only a handful had some hunting bows, maybe a knife for skinning game, or pitchforks. But no one was a threat. That's where we found him, the lizard-folk with cold dead eyes tending to the wounded and helping give out meals with meager supplies. "This changes nothing." Ora immediately said. "You're putting on an act and I know it." She growled with venom in her voice.
"A moment, old friend." Veetor said as he bandaged the head of a child. He whispered something and handed her a small doll, sending the child off with a smile. At this point, our cleric in game was having a bit of a mental break. Veetor was a monster, but looking back the character never hurt anyone that wasn't some power hungry individual. Even with bandits, cultists, and the like he always specified non-lethal attacks. If the group killed regular bandits, or anything of the like Veetor would refuse payment for the job. He'd always take time to bury or burn the dead as well, and say several prayers to different gods both good and evil. I don't remember what god it was our Cleric was with, but he had a strict code for helping people too. His character wanted to smite Veetor for the brutal murders, but at the same time couldn't because of all the good the lizard was doing.
Ora stomped forward, feeling betrayed at someone who in her mind pretended to be good. She grabbed Veetor by his shirt and lifted him up. "You're going to pay for everything you've done, you cold hearted monster." She growled.
Veetor just looked down at Ora, and gave us chills with his next couple of lines. "What more shall I pay, old friend?"
"What?" Ora continued. "No, no more games, you're coming with us to face justice. You started a war with your murders!" She shouted.
Some of the refugees got up. "Leave him alone!" One shouted
"You're the murderers!" Another shouted.
"You lap dogs killed my brother!" One shouted before a rock was thrown at Ora. A quick dex check and Veetor caught it.
"You're the monsters!" A starving old elf in a wheelchair spoke up among the crowd. "I remember a time when heroes stood for the people! Not for kings, queens, and their glory!" He spat.
"We have helped people!" Ora shouted. "We helped everyone! We kept the peace!"
"Compliance." Veetor spoke. "Not peace."
"Stay out of this, we're leaving. No debates, nothing, I want to roll strength to knock him out." Ora's player switched to out of character with the last bit. Then a click that caught all of our attention stopped the roll. The artificer aimed her thunder cannon at Ora. "What are you doing, Liliana?!" Ora said back in character.
"I-I . . . I wanna hear what they mean." She stuttered.
"Compliance. Not peace." Veetor said again. "We did the work of kings and local leaders. Killing bandits, clearing monster lairs, tracking lost relics, and stopping cults. But as you looted the bodies, I held the hands of the dying. I heard their stories, as briefly as I could." Veetor continued. "Starving peasants turned to banditry would hit merchant guild caravans to get food to survive. Goblin and Kobold nests uprooted because some cities wanted to expand their mines or set up new quarries, desperate folk so far gone they turned to darker Gods in the hopes to be spared from further suffering. You butchered them all in the name of justice. Here, trying to get by, are many of their families, friends, and displaced loved ones. I have gathered them after rivaling armies, barbarian hordes, or hordes of monsters had destroyed their homes."
"Lies!" Ora shouted. "All lies! Monsters are monsters! Those cultists were trying to summon evil, and bandits never have more to it than that! They're evil!"
"You disgust me." Veetor finally said, with that same silky voice. "So blinded by vanity and your own self-righteousness you don't even see you are the problem. I am a necessary cruelty to combat evil, but you?" Veetor raised his head, still being held up by Ora, and looked down at her with hatred for the first time. "You're nothing more than a byproduct of it."
The party was smart enough to realize that not all these refugees could be lying. Everyone also knew that Veetor never lied either. The party didn't know what to do. "You . . . You can't be right." Ora shook all over. "You can't be right."
"Enough. Debating philosophy and ideals is for those that seek to validate what they do not yet fully believe. I know what I do is right. What's one more innocent death? Kill me." Veetor demanded before drawing a dagger, grabbing Ora's arm, and holding it up to her neck. "Do it." He demanded. "Because I won't stop. The world is on fire, but I will not stop. Now do it. You have a war to win after all, and we'd hate for any cruelty to come from a honorable war, isn't that right?" He didn't grin. He didn't even sound pleased, but he didn't sound tired either.
"I hate you." Ora said through tears. She stabbed the dagger deep into Veetor’s heart.
"And I . . . Will miss you . . . Old Friend." Veetor died then and there. The table was confused why he died so easy, but then the players sheet was revealed. See we had a rule. No one could see the other's sheet, we only knew each other's race and anything else was up to the players. They discovered then Veetor was a rogue, and his ideals and all that. However the group also learned that for the last few weeks, Veetor had pushed himself to the breaking point. Points of exhaustion, failed medicine checks, no time to buy potions, starvation, and three hit points left. He essentially kept marching with barely any time to rest or heal. He was no BBEG, and no one knew otherwise.
The Cleric said we should bury him or give him a funeral pyre after nearly ten minutes of silence, but Ora stood there with nothing to say. "Bury him with his own kind." The older elf from earlier said again with a hateful gaze at the party.
"What do you mean?" Our cleric continued. The Elf gestured beyond the tree line. Sure enough a brief exploration and we found the ruins of a village. A Lizard-folk village. Veetor's village. The party buried him here and went their separate ways. Our personal demons were settled, but Veetor saw the world he wanted to save erupting in fire. There was no turning back now, it was too good a place to end, and we rolled up new characters for next week's new session in a new world.
As a side note, we discovered how Veetor had managed to get around so fast, as it was due to a near unquantifiable understanding of magic on his part. In his backstory, a wizard basically "uplifted" him to see how smart a Lizard-Folk could be with augmentation, and boy did the safety valves break on that. A massive intelligence score, combined with several custom runes inscribed on his body, and the guy was basically a walking supercomputer for spellcraft. But he never used spells. He would essentially trade his understanding of spellcraft, magic items and scrolls, pieces of his soul, or enchanted items he'd create, to Fae, Demons, and otherworldly entities in exchange for being ferried to and from places when it was time to strike. But near the end, they abandoned him as it was a sunk cost and he had little left to trade.
Also, in the epilogues, no one got a happy ending sadly. Our paladin became a recluse that took a vow of silence and lived as a hermit. Our cleric began to wander as a drifter, though did little to preach. Our artificer got into the academy she wanted to be in, and threw herself into study to ignore everything; and the once bright mind of an inventor that gave this world it's printing press, gunpowder, and penicillin never made anything again. Our barbarian wandered in the wildlands until she perished. The fighter sold himself to distant fighting pits and retired eventually drinking himself till he was no more. Finally, the ranger joined a cult as a bodyguard and faded into obscurity. No one could bring themselves to be remembered anymore, and faded away with what little honor their story had left.
And that's how a Gentleman Lizard-Folk tore down an entire party's moral compass.